If you follow astrology, you might have found yourself nodding along to discussions of the signs and planets. Then the astrologer pulls some jargon like, “The full moon in Aquarius will activate Sagittarius risings’ third house.” Huh? If lingo like this leaves you confused, it’s time to brush up on the houses in astrology. And no, they don’t have anything to do with the roof over your head. There are 12 houses that define the area where cosmic happenings are going down. A full moon in someone’s third house could prompt a release around their communication, rituals, network, or mind — all areas governed by the third house in astrology.
To put it plainly, the planets are the what, the signs are the how, and the houses are the where — and they’re a big deal. When it comes to your personal birth chart, they add a whole layer of detail that you can’t see by only looking at which planets you have in which signs. Houses “tell you your life trajectory [and] are really where everything is happening,” Camila R. Quintero, LCSW, a licensed psychotherapist and professional Vedic astrologer, previously told Elite Daily.
When you look at your placements, for example, you could have your Mars in the sign of Leo, within the third house. Each step is more and more refining. In this case, you’d have the fire and passion of Leo seasoning your planet of action, all happening in your area of communication (the third house covers more than just communication, but more on that later). This combo might make someone a super encouraging friend or motivational speaker who just pumps everyone up all the time.
In astrology, the first six houses define areas of your life that are focused on yourself and things of close proximity to you, while the last six switch over to your interactions with the “other” and planes further outside yourself. The third house provides information on your intellectual processes and describes your immediate surroundings. “The third house is one that people get confused on because there are so many significations,” says Hellenistic astrologer Dalanah of the Moon Matters astrology podcast. It’s definitely not the most straightforward house to grasp, but that’s where the expert astrologers come in. Below, they hash out the nitty-gritty of what the third house in astrology means.
How Do You Know Your Third House?
Everyone has a third house placement just like everyone has a sun, moon, rising, and so on. But how do you know what’s happening in your third house? Just like learning your planets, you’ll need to use a birth chart calculator. Getting your accurate housing layout requires a little more precision on the birth details, however. You’ll need to have your birth date, location, and exact time on hand. Then, just plug everything in and choose your preferred housing system.
Wait, what? Housing system? Yes, there’s more than one method used to divvy up the 12 houses in a birth chart. The sign you have in your third house might vary system to system — so pay attention to which one your chart calculator is using. Astrology isn’t known for being uncomplicated, is it? While there is a multitude of housing techniques, the two most common are called Whole Sign and Placidus. The latter is usually the default setting on most astrology websites and apps, but that doesn’t automatically mean it’s the best choice for you.
The Placidus method is time-based and follows the apparent movement of the sun through the houses. When using this method, you’ll notice your circle chart is split up into 12 uneven slices because each house is not divided into equal parts, making it possible for a sign to be completely skipped.
Whole Sign tends to be a little easier on the eye (and the mind). With this approach, your circle chart is sectioned into 12 perfect 30-degree wedges, each representing a house. You’ll also notice that each zodiac sign aligns right up with these wedges, as each house holds a whole sign (who saw that coming?) beginning with the ascendant (first house). Each house after the ascendant holds the next sign in zodiac order, so if you have Libra in the first house, the second house would be Scorpio, then Sagittarius in the third, and so on. It’s a very clean system to visualize, making it more suitable for beginners.
Of course, all methods have their merits, and it’s completely a matter of personal preference which you choose — though many astrologers do note that Placidus can be a bit of a mess for those born at extreme latitudes.
What Is The Third House In Astrology?
As mentioned, the third house has a lot going on and can be one of the more difficult houses to thoroughly pin down. The major significations have to do with communication, information in general, the mind, and your immediate surroundings. Within each of these areas are even more micro-topics, so you can start to see the almost exponential facets of the third house unfold. Like, information in general? That alone covers about a billion subjects, it would seem.
“It's your intellect,” Dalanah notes. “It's your smarts, it's your brain. It has to do with writing ... also the communication of ideas.” It delineates all mental abilities: learning, writing, reading, speaking, thinking, problem solving, and researching. The third house loves to get ideas out there and discuss — it can be a very conversational place in your chart. Because it has to do with your learning style, hints about education can be found in the third house.
“It's also rituals,” Dalanah continues. The ritual side of the third house spotlights the things you do with consistency, but it can also play on spirituality “because dreams are also in this house,” Dalanah tells Elite Daily. When it comes to your immediate surroundings, things like siblings, your neighborhood, and your inner circle can live here. For example, if you have Jupiter (expansion) in your third house, you’re likely a big talker and thinker. You might also be “big within your small community,” Dalanah says. Maybe you’re the captain of your varsity sports team or student body president.
Western astrology focuses on the third house’s significations of communication, siblings, and speech, but when you add an Eastern perspective, “the third house is so much more than that,” Quintero tells Elite Daily. “It's your impulses, it's your drive. It's your achievements,” she continues. “It deals with your mental abilities, your ability to trade, your ability to do business, [and] your scientific type of mentality.” The third house is also home to your interests, hobbies, and motivation, Quintero adds.
Understanding the third house will reveal how a person thinks, what motivates them, how they process and exchange information and ideas, as well as their relationship to siblings or close community. Anything that can be attributed to processes of the mind, expression, or immediate surroundings will fall within the third house.
Which Sign Rules The Third House?
Not every astrologer likes to marry the signs with the houses, so there’s a little controversy with this question. Depending on the type of astrology you’re studying, there will some nuances when it comes to the houses (among other things).
For example, if you use Hellenistic astrology, the meanings of the houses aren’t so directly correlated to the signs. “It doesn't all fit,” Dalanah says of learning the houses this way. “In traditional astrology, we have all these resources from Hellenistic astrologers and beyond who have significations of these houses that are not solely linked to the signs.”
But then you have Vedic astrology, which is an ancient Hindu system rooted in a larger spiritual practice that’s present in traditions like yoga and Ayurveda. Through this lens, the houses go hand-in-hand with the zodiac signs because there’s a direct relation with Hinduism’s four goals of life. Each goal represents an element, which links to the signs and houses: Dharma is the fire houses (first, fifth, and ninth), Artha is the earth houses (second, sixth, and 10th), Kama is the air houses (third, seventh, and 11th), and finally Moksha represents the water houses (fourth, eighth, and 12th).
Following this, the signs rule their respective house in zodiac order. So the third sign of the zodiac, Gemini, would rule the third house. In Vedic astrology, you’d then apply the themes of Kama as well as Gemini to the third house. Kama, the third goal of life, is about how you fulfill your desires through your willpower. “Gemini helps you communicate and helps you find your willpower [and] your hobbies,” she explains.
Because each sign rules a part of the body, the houses reflect those as well in Vedic and some modern practices. With that in mind, “the third house is associated with your hands, your shoulders, [and] around the arms,” Quintero says. It’s thought that having hard aspects to or more difficult planets in the third house can indicate physical vulnerabilities relating to the hands, shoulders, and arms — or even trouble expressing yourself. On the other hand, having favorable aspects or planets here may imply skill in the hands or nice-looking hands, shoulders, or arms, or a natural ease in communication.
Just as choosing a house system is personal preference, the practice of astrology you choose to go by is totally up to you. However, it does help to familiarize yourself — at least a little bit — with the different schools of thought for a more well-rounded understanding of the stars.
Transits To The Third House
Circling back to that Aquarius full moon in the third house example from the beginning — you know, that astrology jargon that seems to make no sense — that’s one instance of a transit, which is just a fancy way to talk about the planets moving around. A transit that triggers action in your third house happens when planets move through the zodiac sign that you have in your third house. So, if you have Aries in the third house in your chart, and Jupiter moves through the sign of Aries, Jupiter is activating your third house.
OK, but what does that actually mean? Sticking with the Jupiter example, you’d take the meaning of the planet — expansion — and apply it to those third house areas. You might be particularly expressive or have big ideas during this time. Or, if you have Mars hitting your third house, “maybe you get in a fight with your siblings,” Dalanah says. “Maybe if it's Venus, something good happens with your siblings.” It doesn’t have to be siblings, of course; it could really hit on any of those third house themes.
As another example, Dalanah recalls a friend going through several third house transits at once. “She had this problem in her neighborhood with all these stray cats,” she says. “And she made it her sole mission to collect all these stray cats and get them spayed and neutered so they didn't proliferate throughout the neighborhood,” she continues. “But that was a very good example of your immediate surroundings and the third house.” These planetary transits happening in her third house quite literally prompted chaos in her neighborhood.
The third house is a tricky one, and when things happen here, it could be indicating action in various places of your life. Whatever area it’s dealing with, unearthing all there is to know about your own third house placements can be a very enlightening experience — even if it’s just a heads up on stray cats running amok around the neighborhood.